Embassies slam South Korea for “discriminatory” policy on foreign vaccines
Embassies in Seoul have criticized the South Korean government for its “discriminatory” and “frustrating” vaccine policy and called on the authorities to grant “urgent recognition” to foreign nationals vaccinated abroad.
As the dispute over South Korea’s Covid-19 restrictions escalated, foreign delegations in the country, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India as well as the EU mission demanded that their citizens be given “the same rights of access.” to public institutions that Korean nationals fully vaccinated abroad ”.
South Korea requires proof of vaccination for people to enter various public spaces. Vaccines administered in the country are recognized, as are those administered abroad to South Korean nationals. But jabs given to foreign residents abroad are only recognized if the recipient has obtained an exemption from quarantine to enter the country.
Seoul on Friday suspended quarantine exemptions for international arrivals to prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. It also expanded its mandate to require proof of vaccination in restaurants and cafes.
The US Embassy said Tuesday that the “discriminatory policy.” . . causes undue hardship for US citizens vaccinated outside Korea, ”adding that he had raised the issue with the South Korean government“ at the highest level ”.
Simon Smith, UK ambassador to South Korea, called the policy “disappointing and frustrating” and said he would seek clarification from Seoul as well.
Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency defended the vaccine measures, saying they were needed to curb Omicron.
On Tuesday, a KDCPA spokesperson said the government was preparing a separate certificate for double-vaccinated foreigners to be used in public facilities. The spokesperson said the measure would be announced on Thursday.
A recent surge in Covid infections has fueled concerns over the Korean economy, which has already been hit by supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks during the pandemic.
Exports did not compensate for weak domestic spending in the third quarter, with gross domestic product increasing only 0.3%, compared to 0.8% in the previous quarter.
South Korea vaccinated 80% of its 52 million inhabitants and launched a booster campaign in September. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the government intends to give a recall to 13 million people by the end of the year.
The country has reported a total of 482,310 infections and only 3,957 deaths. But daily cases have jumped to around 5,000 after the government launched a ‘live with Covid’ campaign last month.
The rise in infections forced authorities to reimpose some social restrictions on Monday, such as limiting social gatherings to six people in the metropolitan area surrounding the capital.